The UK has recently seen an increase in the number of dogs presenting with symptomatic Brucella canis. You can read more about this disease on the government website:

The government advice is currently that dogs are tested for Brucella before being imported into the UK.  If your dog has been imported from outside the UK, we will require that they are booked in for a blood test to screen for Brucella canis, unless they already have proof of a negative test.  Screening for other infectious diseases may also be appropriate if your dog has been imported from a higher risk country – the vet can discuss this with you.

Dogs that are ill from Brucella canis normally present with the following symptoms although many dogs are asymptomatic:

  • Neck or Spinal Pain
  • Swelling and/or Pain in the testicles
  • Discharge from the Penis or Vulva
  • Infertility or abortion
  • Eye pain or inflammation (uveitis)

The cost of Brucella canis screening is around £110. This involves a simple blood sample, collected by the Vet or Vet Nurse. The sample is sent to APHA (part of the government Department for Environment and Rural Affairs) for tests which can take several days to give results.

Information on Brucella canis

Brucella canis is endemic in various countries including parts of the EU, the incidence in the UK is generally considered to be very low. It is mostly transmitted dog to dog by sexual contact. The most common symptoms affect the sex organs but sometimes the infection can cause inflammation elsewhere in the body, most commonly the spine causing severe spinal pain and paralysis.

Infected dogs pose a risk to humans, with vets (particularly during surgery) and lab staff (handling blood and urine samples) at highest risk. Although rare, the consequences of human infection can be very severe and can lead to death. Appropriate antibiotic treatment is normally successful in treating human patients.

Infected dogs can remain asymptomatic (not show any symptoms) and infection can be lifelong. It is not normally possible to cure the infection in dogs. Unfortunately, due to the risk to people, it is generally recommended that infected dogs are euthanised, especially if they have painful symptoms, but this is something that is considered on an individual basis.

It is helpful if we can take samples for testing before a patient is ill, as treatment may have to be delayed until results are back, which may worsen outcomes. The specialist referral centres we use will not perform diagnostics or procedures on dogs unless they have a negative test result.